Meeting the team behind these bar snacks made in Berkshire
PUBLISHED: 13:00 17 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:00 17 December 2018
Want to impress drinks party guests? The ultimate bar snacks are now being made in Berkshire, thanks to a father of three’s determination to pursue his dream
When a man sells his treasured Audi A6 to pump a chunk of cash into an idea you know he means business. Daniel Featherstone did just that to follow a dream and is now zooming along the road to what might well be described as a very ‘tasty result’.
He left the corporate world behind (“There were a lot of rolling eyes” he says) to continue a quest to launch a range of truly unique premium bar snacks, having tested them out in his home kitchen before moving on to production in Waltham St Lawrence village hall.
Just two years later his Made for Drink range has been championed by the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Rick Stein and can be found on the shelves of Waitrose and Fortnum & Mason. There’s now a happy team including Dan’s wife Jen and friend Sophi on the marketing side (both ladies come from corporate backgrounds as lawyers), while a brother is among those beavering away in the immaculate kitchen of their new premises in Maidenhead, a few miles from the family’s home in Twyford.
“One thing I did have on my side is that I was used to launching brands,” he reveals. “And I could see that the pub scene was changing with the growth of craft beers and people seeking something different.” Previously Daniel had worked for Pepsico, owners of the Walkers crisp empire. He’d moved on to wine importing (“a fun industry and you get to visit vineyards”) but the dream of running his own business wouldn’t go away.
All the time he was making notes in a little book, which today provides a fascinating insight to how the business developed. It’s now packed with lists of ‘essentials’, diagrams with scribbled arrows and random reminders, all aimed at eventually getting those packets on the best shelves.
“I began to think about food and drink pairings rather than somewhat battered cardboard boxes of crisps behind pub bars. You can find some superb pairings from across the world that become personal favourites,” he reveals. “There was definitely some fun in testing out and refining all the endless possibilities at home!”
Then, after a family dinner at a favourite pub, Heston’s The Crown at Bray, Daniel decided he was just about ready to put a toe in the market, so wrote to thank them for a great meal and asked if he could present one of his own ideas.
On the face of it, this was an audacious bid for a newcomer to make. But the response – and advice – was fantastic and so began a whirlwind couple of months, spanning the Christmas period.
In November 2016 Daniel delivered his first products to The Crown and by early in 2017 they had become Fortnum & Mason’s most successful ever project launch.
By the time Made for Drink’s treats were flying off the shelf at Waitrose, Daniel knew he would have to quit his main job, and that matching supply and demand meant the range would need dedicated premises and staff, not ‘all hands on board’ at the village hall.
And that’s when the valuable Audi was sold, with Jen – the couple met at university – understanding that her husband simply had to pursue his
instincts. That’s some trust as the couple now have three children, Henry, seven, Sebastian, four and Josie, two. Many partners might sensibly have wished for the idea to be put on hold for a few years, but their shared spirit of adventure won the day.
“You think about outsourcing production when rapidly expanding like that, but we wanted to keep control of quality all the way from ‘farm to fork’ so to speak, which meant having our own dedicated kitchen and offices.
“With food and drink there are licences and all sorts of technical issues, but I have to say that Windsor & Maidenhead Council were really supportive in helping us to get started and now we are the first EU approved manufacturing food business site in the borough.”
Their licence number is officially 001 and the plan is to employ local people, pay them above the living wage and train them in a real food craft. As a local brand, Made for Drink received a Government Seed grant in 2017 and is already exporting to Denmark and Sweden in addition to all its prestigious UK listings.
It also means that Daniel and his team can perhaps start a new little book of ideas for future products.
We wonder what will come next… but will definitely tuck in as well as raise a glass!
Feast more than your eyes
Made for Drink ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, or rather attractive packaging does in this case, as all four products can be twinned with recommended drinks, although you’re welcome to choose your own favourite tipple.
There’s Chorizo Thins, crunchy slices of roasted Spanish Chorizo, produced to go with Rioja. The crisp Duck Fritons, inspired by a rural Southern French delicacy are made from Creedy Carver free range duck skin and natural sea salt and go down a treat with a glass of IPA. Mangalitza Salami Chips uses pork from a breed of pig famed for the best salamis of Hungary and go well with the likes of Pilsner style lager.
The newest addition to the range ensures veggies are not left out of the feast. Daniel reckons his Latin American-inspired Patacones plantain chips (seasoned with chilli and spices) are probably best enjoyed with golden rum or an ice cold cerveza, but after getting through a few packets we decided they are magnificent with a good G+T as well!
Fancy offering something a little different at your Christmas and New Year gatherings? You can order the Made for Drink range in six, 10 and 15-multipack deals with free UK delivery on all orders. See madefordrink.com.
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